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Ford High History 102 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Zapolski (63)   

Evergreen and Trojan
Evergreen and Trojan
Less than three years after the January 1955 ground breaking ceremony, Detroit's Henry Ford High School (located on Evergreen Rd, between Trojan and Fargo) opened its doors to 9th and 10th grade students on September 5, 1957. The school was built on a 23.5 acre site (costing $120,000), which was part of a parcel of land known as Southfield Woods. The building cost was $2.275M. At that time Ford consisted mainly of classrooms and a cafeteria - there was no 11th or 12th grade until the fall of 1959. Ford had no gym, auditorium, or laboratory facilities. Its initial capacity was designed for 1,225 people. The initial enrollment was 1,541 students and 64 faculty. Construction of additional facilities would be completed by the end of 1962:

 


 
Henry Ford under construction
HF Construction
At the top right of this picture you can see the North end of Pitcher Woods.  Ford's football and track field was located between these woods and the construction site.  In the upper left side of the picture there are a number of homes that were built in the early 1950s - Mike Zapolski (63), the creator of the first HFHS web site  lived in this area on Grandville near 8 Mile Rd.  At the top left there is a street named Trojan (where all the cars are parked).  Perhaps it was from this street that Ford chose its symbolic name - the Trojans.

1957 HF Completed
Henry Ford Completed in 1957




This picture is believed to have been taken in the Spring of 1957 shortly after the completion of construction. In the foreground you can still see landscaping equipment. Note that the auditorium has not been built yet. You can see the expanded view of this picture in the Photo Gallery under Old Pictures of Henry Ford .




Timeline of Important Events
The First 20 Years 

  • February 2, 1959: The last 9th grade class (for a decade) entered Ford.  Those students were Freshmen for 3 consecutive semesters.
  • February 24, 1959: Ford was accredited by the University of Michigan.

  • June 12, 1961: A groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction of the gym, auditorium, and laboratory facilities.

  • October 1961: Construction was well underway toward the scheduled September 1962 completion date.

  • March 28, 1963: Ford's dedication ceremony was held. Bob Salinger spoke for the students - his topic was The Students Dedicate.

  • January 1, 1971: The Michigan Legislature mandated that the Detroit Public Schools become decentralized. This mandate bought about the destabilization of Detroit schools which lasted over two decades. A more detailed history of this process was prepared by Deborah M. McGriff, Ph.D., General Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools.

  • September 1971: 9th grade classes were resumed at Ford. However, Ford did not take students from all of its secondary schools, and parents had to give their permission before a student could attend. At a later date, the remaining schools in Ford's Constellation sent their graduating 8th grade students to Ford.

  • September 1973: A seven week teacher's strike delayed the start of the Fall semester. Because of this strike, 1974 graduations were delayed one month.

  • February 1974:  Ford graduation ceremonies were held in February & July. Due to its size and the number of guests, the July graduation could not be held in the high school auditorium. Instead, it was held in downtown Detroit in the Ford Auditorium on 7/12/1974.

  • August 1975: Federal judge Robert DeMascio ordered the desegregation of the Detroit Public Schools, which resulted in bussing over 19,000 students and the relocation of 53,000 families.

  • January 1977: The last January class graduated from Ford.From this date onward Ford (and all Detroit Public Schools) only held June graduations.

  • October 1978: Students and Staff were photographed, and then IDs were issued at Ford. This policy was implemented in an effort to control access to Ford thereby reducing locker break-ins, disruptive actions, and vandalism by "outsiders."

  • ImageOctober 9, 2007: The gymnasium is named after 1975 grad, Greg (Special K) Kelser, who later played for the Detroit Pistons. 
     
    Do you know any Ford history?  We are especially looking for information from 1980 to present.
     
    If so, please email it to me, AND please identify the source of your history (book, newspaper article, etc.).

 
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